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Products > Euphorbia pulcherrima 'St Louis Red'
 
Euphorbia pulcherrima 'St Louis Red' - Garden Poinsettia
   

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Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Euphorbiaceae (Spurges)
Origin: Mexico (North America)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Red
Bloomtime: Fall/Winter
Height: 6-10 feet
Width: 6-12 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 30-32° F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
Euphorbia pulcherrima 'St Louis Red' (Garden Poinsettia) - A large shrub to 8 feet tall with 4 to 6 inch long medium green slightly dentate leaves and small yellow floral structures (technically called the cyathia) surrounded by showy large red colored bracts. Plant in full sun in a moderately well drained soil and water occasionally to infrequently during summer and fall - fairly drought tolerant but plants larger and more luxurious with occasioanl irrigation. Bracts and leaves are tender to any prolonged temperatures below freezing but stems seem hardy down into the high 20's though winter show may be damaged by any early frosts so best in near frost free coastal gardens. This is an old shruby form of the Poinsettia that grows well in the garden, flowering well in winter so as to add to the holiday spirit. We received this plant from Dylan Hannon, curator of the Huntington Botanic Garden Conservatory who noted that the accession records noted it only as an "old shruby form" that they got from Paul Ecke around 1970 and they considered it a fine garden plant that bloomed reliably at Christmas when grow outdoors without any special treatment. We sent pictures of this plant to Ecke Ranch (now part of the Dutch flower conglomerate, Dümmen Orange) and Poinsettia breeder Ruth Kobayashi told that this plants looks like 'St Louis Red', an old variety that Paul Ecke once grew outdoors in Encinitas. According to the information on the United State Botanic Garden website this variety was the poinsettia grown throughout the United States and Europe until around 1920 and was first marketed as the St. Louis red poinsettia by Louis Bourdet of St. Louis, Missouri, around 1924. The species is native to Central America from southern Mexico (Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Chiapas) and possibly further south into Nicaragua and Costa Rica. It was long cultivated by the Aztecs, who called it cuetlaxochitl and utilized the plant for decoration and extracted compounds from the bracts to be used as a dye and the white sap was used medicinally. It was brought into its current usage as holiday decoration through the efforts of Joel Roberts Poinsett (1779 – 1851) an American physician who was appointed by President James Madison to be the US Minister to Mexico in 1825 (after 1886 this position was called Ambassador) and was later appointed Secretary or War by President Martin Van Buren. Poinsett was very much interested in scientific study and later co-founded the National Institute for the Promotion of Science and the Useful Arts, which later became known as the Smithsonian Institution. Poinsett maintained his own hothouses at his Greenville, South Carolina plantation and brought back and cultivated Euphorbia pulcherrima from Taxco del Alarcon in Guerrero after seeing it flourishing there when visiting the area in 1828. He later shared the plants with friends and botanic gardens and it was not long before it was first introduced into cultivation commercially by Bartram Gardens, the company founded on the farm of John Bartram, the early American botanist, horticulturist and explorer that Carl Linnaeus one time called "greatest natural botanist in the world". Bartram’s Garden first exhibited the plant at a 1829 meeting of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and by 1834, the plant generally known as Poinsettia, was introduced to Europe. The name for the genus is derived from Euphorbus, the Greek physician of King Juba II of Numidia and later of Mauritania. In 12 B.C. King Juba named a cactus-like plant he found in the Atlas Mountains after his physician and later Carl Linnaeus assigned the name Euphorbia to the entire genus and the specific epithet 'pulcherrima' fittingly means "most beautiful'. We are not certain that this is the same variety that can be seen in the photo taken in December 2015 of the magnificent Poinsettia display along Camarillo Springs Rd in Camarillo (Ventura County) but it is similar and shows just how amazing this plant can look!.  This description is based on our research and observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery garden and in other gardens that we have visited. We will also incorporate comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have some additional information about this plant, in particular if this information is contrary to what we have written or if they have additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing Euphorbia pulcherrima 'St Louis Red'.